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Board 48: Analysis of a Trial of Mentoring between Civil Engineering Students and Practicing Engineers

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mark W. Milke P.E. University of Canterbury Orcid 16x16

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Mark Milke is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since 1991 he has taught and conducted research there on solid waste management, design for civil and natural resources engineers, systems, professional development, and other topics in civil and environmental engineering. He was an Associate Editor for the international research journal Waste Management from 2003-2009, and is currently AE for Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems. He has a BSc from Harvey Mudd College, a MSc from Univ. Wisconsin—Madison, and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, and he is a New Zealand Chartered Professional Engineer. From 2009-2017 he has led the curriculum review process in his department, and has been a leader in curriculum innovations by developing new courses in engineering design, communication skills portfolio, and professional engineering development.

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Annelies Kamp University of Canterbury

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Associate Professor Annelies Kamp is Head of the School of Educational Studies and Leadership at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. She has over 25 years of experience in senior leadership roles in Crown agencies, industry training and the not-for-profit sector. She has been a Ministerial Board appointment in the adult, community and further education sectors (in both Australia and New Zealand).

Prior to taking up her current role as Associate Professor in Leadership, Annelies was Deputy Director at the Higher Education Research Centre at Dublin City University in Ireland and Programme Co-ordinator of the MSc in Education & Training Management (Leadership). Her most recent books are Rethinking Learning Networks: Collaborative Possibilities for a Deleuzian Century (Peter Lang, 2013) and a major co-edited collection A Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century (Brill, 2014).

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Dave Brierley Engineering New Zealand

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Immediate past Chair of the Canterbury branch of Engineering New Zealand - Institute of Engineering Professionals.

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Mentoring has been recognized as a valuable part of the development of young engineers, and a number of mentoring programs are operating using practicing engineers and engineering students. Collection of data on mentoring programs, however, is at a less advanced stage.

An eight-week long trial mentoring program was run for 17 third and fourth year students studying Bachelors civil and environmental engineering degrees late in 2016. They were paired with practicing, mostly civil, engineers. The trial was supported by a cross-disciplinary team from two university schools (engineering and teaching) and a local leading practicing engineering manager. An information pack on mentoring was prepared for participants. A kick-off session for mentors and mentees included lecture content and exercises in building rapport, active listening and effective questioning. Participants were provided with on-line resources and an on-line chat forum. Mentors and mentees were asked to complete pre-trial and post-trial on-line surveys. The paper will analyze in detail the results of these surveys.

The pre and post-trial surveys examined the expectations and reservations of participants in order to develop guidance on how best to communicate about a mentoring relationship with both students and practicing engineers. The surveys showed an average of five meetings of 30-60 minutes between the mentors and mentees during the trial. A common issue for students was their desire for a strong match of professional interests, while mentors and the program organizers did not see this as an issue. One issue observed by the program organizers was a need for personality matching: matching of talkative extroverts with quiet introverts seemed to lead to a greater risk of less valuable mentoring. The issue of matching would be explored in greater detail in the paper.

A key finding was that the mentoring seemed more effective for third year students than fourth year students: third year students still faced significant university decisions related to final year optional courses, the type of employment to pursue over the summer and for job interviews, and overseas exchange study. Mentors themselves saw great benefit in their own professional and personal development by being trained in mentoring, participating in mentoring, and then reflecting on the experience.

Based on the trial, our university is intending to advance mentoring in the following ways: • Further develop the information pack and kick-off workshop session • Reduce the emphasis on on-line resources and chat rooms • Offer mentoring to third year students by practicing engineers • Offer mentoring as a course for practicing engineers with course credits that could be applied to masters degrees • Require third year student mentees to agree to serve as mentors in their fourth year to second year students • Develop the program to the extent that practicing engineers are eager to participate.

Milke, M. W., & Kamp, A., & Brierley, D. (2018, June), Board 48: Analysis of a Trial of Mentoring between Civil Engineering Students and Practicing Engineers Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30042

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